The Southern Times catalyst for SADC integration
The Southern Times has grown to be the voice of SADC, telling the regional story from an African perspective in the past 10 years of the newspaper’s existence, Namibia’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joel Kaapanda has said.
In an interview, Minister Kaapanda said the newspaper, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 3, had fulfilled the mandate for which it was formed by being the analytical voice of political and socio-economic developments in the SADC region.
The Southern Times was established in 2004, as a joint venture between Namibia’s New Era Publication Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers of Zimbabwe.
“In my own analysis, The Southern Times has attempted to tell the African story as it unfolds in the SADC region. The newspaper specialises in analytical features, looking at an issue and going behind the issue and analysing the issue, what does it mean. That is how the newspaper has distinguished itself from the daily newspapers, which cover events and announce new developments,” said Minister Kaapanda.
He said as the region endeavours for development on the economic and social fronts, it needed an analysis of the events happening around it to be able to make sound decisions.
“This is how NamZim (The Southern Times) addresses issues from an analytical point of view, it’s a vehicle for SADC integration. As we endeavour for economic development and otherwise, what does that (events and processes in the region) mean to us?”
Minister Kaapanda said the newspaper was the brainchild of the leaders of the two countries, Namibia’s Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma, and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He said the two leaders wanted the region to have a newspaper that tells the African story from an African perspective and The Southern Times had fitted that bill in a convincing manner.
“What inspired the formation of the newspaper was the desire by our two presidents former President, Dr Sam Nujoma, and President Robert Mugabe to establish a newspaper with a regional dimension that tells the regional story from an African perspective, a newspaper that will carry a story as told by Africans themselves.”
Minister Kaapanda said there were quite a number of success stories in the SADC region and on the African continent which were not being told.
“There are quite a number of good things taking place in the SADC region, success stories but these success stories do not normally get picked up by the western media which dominates the media in general.
“The Western media normally picks the negative issues and portray these as the nature of things of particular countries,” he said.
He said The Southern Times had in the past decade been highlighting the successes taking place in SADC member states and providing an alternative source of news.
Minister Kaapanda said The Southern Times has also become the vehicle for regional integration because its reportage seeks to promote unity and co-operation among SADC member states in the political, economic, social and cultural sectors.
“The Southern Times is the flagship of that regional endeavour to achieve economic development, employment creation and reduce poverty in our region. It can be used as a vehicle for SADC integration, economic development, culture and education as they are taking place in the SADC region. It is a paper that tells our success stories as we see it ourselves, that is basically the purpose of The Southern Times.”
The newspaper had grown over the past decade to be catalyst towards regional integration because it carries stories which are happening in SADC and educates the member states to understand the importance of regional integration, said the Minister.
He said the biggest threat to regional integration was the individualistic mentality of member states in the SADC region and this required an attitude change.
The Southern Times could be the vehicle through which that change can be realised.
“Members of SADC are members of one family, they should have a common direction because they benefit from mutual collaboration. We all share the same background of history that constitutes our commonality. SADC member states are the former Frontline States, which came together to fight colonialism and apartheid.
“They paid the high price for supporting the liberation of fellow member states and therefore we have to work together in many ways. But who will tell the story of our endeavour? A regional paper must tell the story of our struggles to build our region. Southern Times is the mouthpiece of this common endeavour of the SADC member countries.”
Minister Kaapanda said the newspaper has helped cement the good relations that already existed between Namibia and Zimbabwe through sharing of experiences and skills.
He urged other SADC member states to join in the initiative and consolidate the position of The Southern Times as the region’s voice. The Minister said the way was clear for willing member states to become part of the project because the SADC Secretariat had already expressed its support for the newspaper.
The SADC Secretariat has on a number of occasions partnered with The Southern Times, which has seen the newspaper being the official media partner at the annual SADC summits where it produced daily bulletins and special magazines of events at the meetings.
Minister Kaapanda predicted that in the next 10 years The Southern Times will take a higher trajectory in terms of informing the region what is happening in the region, promoting regional and cultural integration.
“The Southern Times is very educative, it’s a paper you can read several times. It carries very educational stories, it’s a vehicle for knowledge development. You need to read the paper to be informed of even the geo-political events unfolding in other regions of the world.” The Minister paid tribute to his Zimbabwean counterpart Professor Jonathan Moyo for the co-operation that exists between the two countries’ information ministries, which saw the birth of The Southern Times.
He also commended the board, management and staff of the newspaper for their sterling efforts to sustain the newspaper.